Malware infects thousands of PCs and hackers make money with Bitcoins

Kaspersky Lab has discovered two botnets used by hackers to carry out mining activities, the system that allows to generate the virtual currency

The success of Bitcoins, the virtual currency, has pushed hackers to resume an old stratagem used in the past to accumulate easy earnings. Kaspersky Lab, a company expert in computer security, has discovered two large botnets used by cyber criminals to generate bitcoin.

A first network, made up of about 4000 computers, allowed hackers to get more than 30 thousand dollars a month, while the second botnet, in which 5000 machines of unsuspecting users have converged, allowed the authors of the system to pocket 200 thousand dollars. The devices, according to Kaspersky, were infected with malware, which then installed a miner, a legitimate program used to create cryptocurrency. The mining activity is very complex, time-consuming and requires high-performance computers.

And that is why, as in the case revealed by the Russian cybersecurity company, hackers often resort to botnets, "zombie" computers capable of creating bitcoin as quickly as possible. The popularity achieved by the cryptocurrency has led hackers to "release" malware on the network to infect victims and thus create botnets. All without the users knowing anything about it.

How hackers strike

In this case, the goal is to use the computers of the unlucky ones to create the cryptocurrency faster. According to Kaspersky's researchers, the hackers install the miner on PCs by exploiting adware, malicious software that users download to their PCs.

The installer, the tool that allows hackers to download the program to generate bitcoin, in order to allow the miner to "go ahead" undisturbed, tries to disable protection programs and suspend the machine's activities when a software that checks active processes is active. In addition, the malicious element checks that the miner is always present on the victim's PC and if not, it installs it again.

The generated bitcoins are sent to the wallets managed by cyber criminals. According to Kaspersky, hackers, in addition to Bitcoin have also targeted the cryptocurrencies Monero and Zcash, perhaps because, as the cybersecurity specialist explains, they would provide more anonymity to the perpetrators and their transactions.